Agents of the Iranian regime are putting “immense pressure” on Canadian civil servants, and often succeeding at influencing them, according to former interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen.
Bergen, who recently stepped down as member of parliament in Portage—Lisgar, told a group of Iranian dissidents that “so-called Iranian diplomats” have cultivated relationships with Canadian bureaucrats.
“What we’re seeing in Canada… is immense pressure and disinformation that’s given to the bureaucrats and the civil servants who are advising our politicians and our government,” Bergen said Friday.
Bergen was speaking on a disinformation panel at the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Free Iran conference in Paris.
Bergen said in previous years Global Affairs Canada civil servants tried to get her and other members of parliament to not attend the annual event.
“Some of the biggest pressure that I’ve received has actually been from the bureaucrats who would call us in and advise us to not be participants of this conference,” she said. “The bureaucrats want to play it safe. And I think that they are many times advising our government leaders ‘Just stay away from it.’”
Bergen said this often stems from a desire to “not tick off Iran” or from a fear that Iran could retaliate. She noted that Iranian regime representatives play off bureaucrats’ ignorance to the facts on the ground.
“So-called Iranian diplomats have relationships with our civil servants in our countries, and these are many civil servants who are very well-meaning but they don’t get out of their capitals very often,” she said. “I know in Ottawa they don’t get out of Ottawa very often and they don’t get to actually meet with the real people on the ground, whereas as politicians we do, and we have a little more courage and oomph to do these things.”
Other members of the Canadian delegation include former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, former Conservative cabinet ministers John Baird and Tony Clement, retired Liberal MP Wayne Easter and sitting Liberal MP Judy Sgro.
True North asked Sgro if Global Affairs Canada had interceded ahead of her attendance this year but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.
Bergen also warned of “appeasers” of the Iranian regime who’ve infiltrated many aspects of civil society in Canada and around the world.
“We see appeasers in our own country, in our own governments, in our own media, in our own academic institutions,” she said.
“You know, you have to ask yourself, why in Canada did we, as a parliament, vote to call the (Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) a terrorist organization? And the current government, although they support it, they won’t do it. They’ve put forward some reasons that I think are thinly veiled excuses. But there’s pressure, there’s a lot of pressure.”
The France-based NCRI, led by Maryam Rajavi, positions itself as Iran’s democratically-elected government-in-exile. The organization has attracted a great deal of support from current and former western leaders as a democratic alternative to Iran’s theocratic regime.
In May, former Canadian prime ministers Stephen Harper and Kim Campbell were among more than 100 signatories to a letter calling on world leaders to act against the Iranian regime.
Bergen echoed the call in her remarks Friday.
“We have to be strong and vigilant and stand shoulder to shoulder… with Mrs. Rajavi with everyone who is working as part of the organization to free Iran,” she said.